Anything Goes : Do's and Don'ts in Pre-production...help! by A AA

A AA

Do's and Don'ts in Pre-production...help!

Hi Everyone, I recently wrote a script that is in pre-production now. I am collaborating with someone who is going to produce it and I am going to be the assistant producer. I don't really have any experience doing the whole producing thing, and I wanted to know if anyone can give me advice or the do's and don'ts. I am going to be using The Complete Film Production handbook as well as guidance from my producer. I want to be as thorough and organized as possible because I want this production to be professional, successful and done the right way. -Thanks!

Peter Carr

whats in your agreement with the producer. let me know and I will guide you

A AA

Hi Peter, no agreement. Is there supposed to be an agreement? Yikes I'm so green!

Georgia Hilton

OMG.... STOP. First do some homework! ...Copyright your script, register it with the WGA ( WGA WEST is like $20 something and a simple online registration . Then ask the "Producer" to provide a resume and examples of completed projects. If they have a good record ( IMDB is a good place to start ).... then ask them to read the script and then tell you how they would produce the project, provide you with an estimated budget ( conceptual ), and a modest project plan that takes you from Funding, to pre-production, thru production, thru post and how they intend to distribute.. This all can be done in a discussion that will instantly tell you if the "Producer" has the ability and background to deliver on the project. After you truly believe the "producer" can in fact deliver your project, you can negotiate a reasonable budget and hoe much the producer will receive for services (payment and back-end points for example ). You are potentially heading down an expensive dead end by heading headlong into a project a big, and complex as a feature film project. Even if its just a small no-budget short... you still need to vet your producer....

Greg Artist Pitts

Do the film yourself!!! My son and I have our own production company and do shorts ourself.

A AA

Thank you Georgia! That is all really great info, I will heed your advice. Greatly appreciate it :)

Cheryl Louden-Kubin Csa

If you need Casting….count me in.

Ken Koh

The biggest help for me during a production and pre is the production board, make sure you know how to properly breakdown a script, and schedule it. If not, study it from books, videos until you do. It's absolutely vital to the success of your film to be super organized. That's how you'll stay on budget, and on schedule for your production. Don't be another producer who runs out of money during production or post, that'll be your fault if that happens.

Georgia Hilton

one word... STORYBOARD.

Maurice Tyson

2 words - Entertainment. Lawyer.

Georgia Hilton

ASSUMING you are doing a low/no budget project to make some money - ( THE FOLLOWING IS NOT IN ANY ORDER - just a stream of thoughts for you ) do a solid and in depth script break down, story board every friggin shot, make sure you have EVERYTHING budgeted and don't be one of those film makers that think.. " oh.. it won't cost that much we'll sort something out..." no things are going to cost MORE than you think , not less. set budgets for individuals/departments/teams and LIVE WITH IT. don't let "scope creep" or "budget creep" screw you over. Keep it simple... Don't let your DP, or lighting people go nuts with the toys... keep on track. If you AD isn't making the days, give the team ONE chance to correct the issues... if the AD keeps not making days then get another AD. Don't hire a bunch of people and let them fall into "its not my department syndrome" on a low budget gig - everyone helps do anything that needs doing. DON'T go SAG or UNION unless you have a shit ton of money. it won't be worth it. ... EVERYONE from you to the PA/s get written contracts that state clearly the roles/responsibilities/and other duties as determined by the producers and how much they are getting paid. contracts contracts contracts - either 50 page contracts or the back of a napkin, but contracts. Keeps friends, friends and problem children in their place. DOn't hire your friends because they are your friends. Hire the right person for the job and someone who is hungry and wants to be there is much more valuable than a star player ( cast or crew ) who doesn't give a shit. document everything as Ken states... he's right... the more planning you do the better the project will be. Look at the script and I mean... REALLY look at it. what can you cut, what doesn't move the plot, what's going to cost too much money and/or cost too much time to shoot... If it's not absolutely required for the film - lose it. If it is. sort out a cheaper way to accomplish the same plot point. Keep the crew to a minimum and keep the cast to a minimum. PRESELL PRESELL PRESELL before you shoot a single shot PRESELL your project . A poster.. a REAL movie poster made by a REAL MOVIE POSTER company is worth every penny. You can presell a film on a one sheet and an outstanding poster.... I know. I've done it. Preselling your film will get you more money to shoot. of course it will also force you to contract deliverables so that is a good/bad thing. Reduce locations to a minimum... A company move sucks and will cost you more time/money than you expect, so make as few company moves as possible. Bring your SOUND recordist and your EDITOR on board in pre-production - get them to work with you, the director, the DP the art and lighting team... You'll be amazed what competent post personnel will provide to your production team and how with some insight from them you can make the project better and cheaper and in the end much more of an integrated whole. Don't forget: deposits, production insurance, rentals, damage, gas, food, expendable like light bulbs, gaff tape, art dept crud, makeup... all the fun supplies that add up. If you are going to plan a 10 day shoot ... plan a 12 day shoot. If it's a 15 day shoot plan 18 days... 20 ...plan 22 or 23.... You will inevitably blow a day because of something and you'll be screwed if you lose your key personnel and you don't have a finished film. Also.... STORY BOAR EVERY FRIGGIN SHOT !!!! then give them to your editor.... tell them to edit them into a time line. Get some friends or actors together and do a TABLE READ of the film.. you'll be shocked at how bad a script can sound versus reading it on the page. record this with your location recordist... then give it to the editor and to cut into the storyboard time line.... NOW some fun... do some post moves on the story boards and match them to the table read.... Add some music and sound effects and you have an ANIMATIC of the entire FILM !!! WAHOO! you've just tested your editor, your recordist you've got the entire film in a 90 minute quicktime movie for reference and you have... basically your movie to watch before spending a ton of money in production! If it doesn't work as a whole or any part you can play with it until it does and now you're ready to do the breakdowns and planning and you have a rough of the movies to share with the entire cast and crew PRIOR to shooting... anyway, back to production.... HIRE A DAMN GOOD DIT person... if you are shooting on digital... you ARE shooting on digital... don't get sucked into film on a low/no gig.... shoot digital. Anyway... if you are shooting digital you had better get a good DIT person... they will be your life line btween the camera and post and if you are going to loose shots, footage or get shit screwed up its going to be in the speedy ingest/log and capture/ backups of your daily footage, so don't skimp on a DIT person. When I director or produce I make sure I have the editor (or AN editor ) on location to edit daily... remember that digital Animatic we made? You can literally start there and as you shoot footage, just drop it in on the animatic to see how things are working out and to make sure you have the shots you need for your film. Well. my fingers hurt and i've got to get back to CGI/editorial for my film.. But I though a bit of a core dump might help some people that are starting to plan the summer shoot! Best of luck and make something interesting. FEEL FREE to post questions and i'll do my best to answer them. cheers geo

Bobby Marko

Get Production Minds! It's what we used to do it right! http://bobbymarko.com/2014/06/fruitcake-production-team-talk-about-produ...

Beulah Jones

I do not intend to produce my project, but Georgia's post is most enlightening.

Art Thomas

Thank you Georgia...well said! We pre-sold 'The Shadow Walkers' to Lionsgate before we captured the 1st frame. See trailer at: http://vimeo.com/2362335

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